by Hilary Armstrong, The Daily Telegraph, January 12, 2017
From Prada’s Bar Luce in Milan to Burberry's Thomas’s cafe in London, luxury brands are increasingly recognising the part food and drink has to play in enhancing the retail experience. As Ralph Lauren launches its new café in its Polo Ralph Lauren Regent Street flagship store, we share our favourite addresses in London where shopping and eating go hand in hand.
Ralph's Coffee & Bar
The prayers of the capital’s best-dressed preppies have been answered: London finally has its own version of the Manhattan’s celebrity-filled Polo Bar in the form of Ralph’s Coffee & Bar, now open at the new Polo Ralph Lauren flagship on Regent Street. The intimate space, with just 24 seats and 12 perches at the bar, builds on the success of Ralph Lauren’s existing restaurant portfolio which began in 1999 with RL Restaurant in Chicago, followed by Ralph’s in Paris in 2010 and 2015’s acclaimed Polo Bar in New York .
The London concept delivers everything fans of the RL lifestyle could wish for: saddle leather banquettes, walls in baize and dark wood, and a gallery of equestrian art. "Timeless classic" defines the menu too, from club sandwiches to tuna tartare, Ridgway margaritas and excellent own-blend coffee. Ralph’s Coffee & Bar, Polo Ralph Lauren, 173 Regent Street, London W1B 4JQ; 020 7113 7450
April’s Café at Boutique 1
It’s a pairing nobody could have predicted: luxury retailer Boutique 1 – stores in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Beirut and now Chelsea – have brought in east London’s edgiest and most innovative restaurateurs, Pablo Flack and David Waddington of Bistrotheque and Hoi Polloi at the Ace Hotel to launch a café at their European flagship. The result, April’s Café, opened just this month, lustily upends expectations of how pencil-thin Sloanes do lunch; there are cocktails and carbs at every table, and nobody seems to be counting the calories in the enormous Neal’s Yard cheese toasties - that’s the east London effect for you.
Designers Halstead Leong have filled the interior with colour, with malachite marble, cherry wood and yellow enamelled metal, to complement Bistrotheque chef Blaine Duffy’s beautiful, vibrant plates of radicchio, chicory and crayfish salad with saffron, pink beef and heritage tomatoes and ham hock with perfect sauce gribiche. It’s even lovelier in the dappled sunlight of the lush, palm-filled courtyard, a "secret" spot for a healthy breakfast or indulgent afternoon tea. Boutique 1, 127-128
Rose Bakery at Dover Street Market
Dover Street Market’s relocation to Haymarket in March was excellent news for fans of its branch of popular Paris café, Rose Bakery. In its new and improved home on the third floor (within ogling distance of Molly Goddard’s exquisite tulle dresses), it now has a proper kitchen to enable it to show the full extent of its repertoire beyond the scones, crumbles and quiches that made it such a cult favourite among anglophile Parisians.
The menu changes daily and now includes such perky lunch dishes as crunchy chicory leaves piled high with fresh white crab or sourdough bruschetta topped with thyme-scented tomatoes and mozzarella. Swing by mid-shop for coffee (from Hackney roastery Climpson and Sons) or fresh juice, and a scoop of salted treacle ice cream or a slice of green tea and blueberry cake. Rose Bakery, Dover Street Market, 18-22 Haymarket, London, SW1Y 4DG, 020 7518 0680
Zelman Meats at Harvey Nichols
Fresh from Soho, the latest arrival on Harvey Nichols’ Fifth Floor is the second branch of Zelman Meats, the new steakhouse concept from the Goodman Group (Burger & Lobster, Goodman, Beast). Launched just last month, it follows its Soho sibling in organising its menu around three daily cuts of beef – perhaps 12 hour-smoked short rib, chateaubriand or Australian "dirty" steak cooked direct on the coals – supplemented by specials. "Special" isn’t a word they use lightly: we’re talking Norwegian king crab legs, Japanese wagyu and Sicilian red prawns. Don’t miss the triple-cooked chips with black truffle and Parmesan. Zelman Meats, Fifth Floor, Harvey Nichols, 109-125 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7RJ, 020 7235 5000
202 is one of West London’s original shopping-and-eating fixtures. This Westbourne Grove salon (previously Nicole Farhi’s W11 outpost) remains a perennial local favourite for brunch, the kind of place you can slope in fresh from the gym, read a book, bring the dog, or rock a sleeping baby. The few tables out front are in high demand; inside are mix and match bentwood chairs at gently worn marble tables where locals partake of smoked salmon and sunshine yellow scrambled Italian eggs, the ever-popular chicken fajitas, and steak frites with garlic butter. Meander down into the moodily lit boutique after lunch to pick up a rock ‘n’ roll wardrobe of leather bombers and lace dresses by emerging designers. 202 Westbourne Grove, London, W11 2SB, 020 7727 2722
Hemsley + Hemsley at Selfridges
There’s little point investing in a brand new workout wardrobe, only to scupper your good intentions with a trip to The Brass Rail for a salt beef sandwich. Instead, enter the healthy, happy world of the Hemsley sisters at their first cafe found within Selfridges’ third floor Body Studio. Small and serene, Hemsley + Hemsley at Selfridges opens from 9am to 9pm and serves a vogueish menu covering matcha latte and coconut buckwheat porridge breakfasts, light lunches featuring the Hemsleys’ famous spiralised vegetables and warming bone broths, and not-quite-so virtuous biodynamic wines and beetroot Bloody Marys. Hemsley + Hemsley Café, Selfridges & Co, 400 Oxford Street, London, W1A 1AB, 0800 123 400, selfridges.com
Thomas’s at Burberry
Burberry is the first of the British big names to recognise the growing importance of food and drink in the luxury retail environment. Its understated café and wine bar, Thomas’s, opened last year at the Regent Street flagship giving us an excuse to linger a little longer after browsing. The emphasis is on time-honoured dishes and heritage ingredients such as London Cure smoked salmon with scrambled eggs, crab bridge rolls, and Sutton Hoo chicken salad. Best of all are toasted teacakes and hot buttered crumpets from the Aga. Thomas’s, Burberry, 5 Vigo Street, London, W1S 3HA, 020 3159 1410,
Raw Press at Wolf & Badger
Wolf & Badger, champion of young luxury labels both online and in its Mayfair and Notting Hill stores, understands that its customers don’t just want to look good, they want to feel good. Hence the Raw Press cold-pressed juice bars at both stores, the larger of the two discreetly tucked beneath the Dover Street branch. In addition to the signature green and root juices (try the No.3 sweet green juice with pineapple if you’re still leery of veggie juices) there are chilled sencha tea kombuchas, uplifting breakfast bowls, and salads packed with seeds, grains and superfoods. Wolf & Badger, 32 Dover Street, London, W1S 4NE, 020 3627 3191
Tartufi and Friends at Harrods
There’s no shortage of eating and drinking opportunities at Harrods (including, from 14-20 November, a pop-up from Michelin-starred Edinburgh chef Tom Kitchin, for which reservations are now being taken), but it’s the laidback luxe of Italian truffle specialists Tartufi & Friends that wins us over. Choose classic dishes that allow the flavours of the truffle to come through: fried eggs, tagliolini cacio e pepe, yellowfin tuna tartare, risotto, or vanilla ice cream drizzled with truffle honey. Pick up some truffle-scented gifts for foodie friends while you are there. Tartufi and Friends, Harrods, Lower Ground Floor, 87-135 Brompton Road, London, SW1X 7XL, 020 7225 5800
45 Jermyn St.
It was a bold stroke on the part of Fortnum and Mason CEO Ewan Venters to replace the iconic, but tired, Fountain Restaurant with a glamorous Martin Brudnizki-designed brasserie. 45 Jermyn St., as it’s now known, fizzes with energy from morn till night, as its eau-de-nil bag toting diners greedily tuck into a surprisingly innovative, truly seasonal menu from ex-Hix head chef Lee Stretton. This game season, choose devilled grouse with marinated king oyster and goose foie gras with mirabelles and grouse, or summon the caviar trolley for a spoon or two of Iranian beluga, classically served with blinis, crème fraîche and scrambled eggs. The marble bar is ideal for solo dining and cocktails. 45 Jermyn St., St James’s, London, SW1 6DN
Menswear brand Chucs’ offers a beautifully realised fantasy of la dolce vita, of movie stars and Riviera jaunts at its Westbourne Grove restaurant and bar. Pop in for an espresso and sfogliatella pastry at the marble-topped bar and see if you too don’t come away dreaming of Amalfi and a new wardrobe to suit. The W11 branch, opened this February, builds on the success of the Dover Street original, but has the advantage of a seductive garden terrace, open from 7.30am for a health-conscious breakfast of matcha egg white protein pancakes until late for classic Italian dishes like vitello tonnato, beef carpaccio and chicken scaloppina. The weekend brunch crowd favours Russian oscietra with blinis, pizza bianca with black truffle and handmade lobster bigoli. Chucs, 226 Westbourne Grove, London, W11 2RH, 020 7243 9136
This article was written by Hilary Armstrong from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.